Nov 162014

Are you worried that you’re not paranoid enough about your communications security and want to improve your OpSec? Edward Snowden says to trust in encryption, but you still need to worry about the systems that run it:

Encryption works. Properly implemented strong crypto systems are one of the few things that you can rely on. Unfortunately, endpoint security is so terrifically weak that NSA can frequently find ways around it.

One step towards going “Full-Snowden” is with hardware storage of your PGP secret keys! The Yubikey Neo and Neo-N USB tokens are a neat (and not too expensive) way to keep the secret part of your RSA2048 keys locked in a hardware device rather than stored as a file on your harddrive. The hardware tokens are compatible with the OpenPGP card protocol, which recent versions of gnupg support out-of-the-box. All of the public-key cryptography happens inside the tamper-proof device, so your secret key is never decrypted in the memory nor stored on disk of your machine.

Since setting up the key pairs and transferring the secret ones to the device can be tricky the first time, I wrote a brief guide to configuring Yubikeys as OpenPGP crypto-hardware tokens. They integrate nicely with Apple’s (or mutt with gpg-agent), so there is one less excuse for not protecting your email.

Hack Holyoke

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Nov 102014

Hardware checkout at Hack Holyoke
Last Friday was the Hack Holyoke 24-hour embedded systems hackathon, held at Mt Holyoke College. Of the 200 participants, well over half were women from the Seven Sisters schools and many were attending their first hackathon.

Hack Holyoke dance party
One of the distinguishing features of this hackathon was a 2am dance party! Every event should include one.

You can read @HackHolyoke twitter stream and read on for some photos of a few of the teams.

Continue reading »

Sep 112014

The Pax Instruments T400 temperature datalogger is on Kickstarter right now! The T400 is a project of NYC Resistor’s own Charles Pax of Pax Instruments.

The Pax Instruments T400 datalogger is an open source four-channel thermocouple temperature datalogger based on the Arduino™ Leonardo platform. It is ready to use out of the box with the features you want most. Measurements can be logged to MicoSD card, printed to serial port, and graphed. The T400 is a great tool for anything from live thermal process monitoring in the lab to long-term environmental data collection in the field.

Professional design
The Pax Instruments T400 datalogger is designed to be out of the box ready for professionals and hobbyists alike. If you need a temperature datalogger that works every time, this is the device for you.

Open source spirit
The hardware and software design files are available to you at no cost to use, modify, or redistribute. This allows you and others to extend the devices capabilities or tailor it to your specific application.

Arduino™ Compatible
Arduino™-compatible hardware means while hacking on the platform you will be able leverage the work of others while sharing your own work with large community of hackers and makers. Sharing is caring.

MicroSD slot
Readings can be saved to a microSD card in standard CSV format for processing in Microsoft Excel, LibreOffice, or your favorite data analysis tool.

USB serial port
Readings can captured live via the USB serial port. This is perfect for live process monitoring in lab experiments or connecting to an internet-enabled device.

Mini-TC connectors
Thermocouples connect via standard mini thermocouple connectors. The T400 is compatible with a wide variety of K-type thermocouple sensor types from stainless steel probes to rolling surface-contact sensors.

If you’re ready to support the Pax Instruments T400 datalogger, head over to the T400 Kickstarter campaign or for more information take a look at the T400 product page. If you’d like a look under the hood, check out the Pax Instrument sources on Github.

Sep 042014

Hopper Interactive Disassembly
Want to get started with reverse engineering on i386, x86-64 or ARM systems? The Hopper disassembler makes it easy! Or at least easier to understand what is going on in binaries, firmware dumps and other random executables that you might encounter.

This four hour class is taught by Trammell Hudson, the original author of the Magic Lantern firmware for Canon DSLR cameras, and will cover initial exploration of files, annotating functions, discovering common patterns and using the control-flow graph / pseudo-code generator to understand what the assembly is doing.

Experience with programming, but not necessarily assembly language, is necessary, as is a Mac or Linux laptop. Buy your tickets here!

Solder paste

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Jul 142014

MOSFET level shifters
If you find yourself soldering tiny SMD packages, like these dual MOSFETs, you might pull out the microscope and get to see the solder paste for what it really is:
Solder paste under the microscope
So many tiny balls of solder! And as all of the microscopic spheres melt, surface tension pulls the blob onto the pads in the most amazing way.